Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Music Exam Question

B4. How global is the appeal of your three main texts? (30)

The three texts I have looked at for the Industry topic are Nirvana's album, 'Nevermind', Radiohead's album 'King of Limbs' and Lady Gaga's album 'Born this Way'.

Nirvana's 1991 album 'Nevermind' combined more alternative genres such as 'punk' with popular genres at the time such as 'metal' and 'pop' to create a genre known as 'grunge', this hybrid of conventions resulted in the post-modern genre of grunge which attracted a variety of mainstream and more niche audiences and was a huge commercial and global success.
On a major label, artists have to promote their album(s); in order to promote 'Nevermind,' Nirvana appeared on mainstream TV shows and set out on a European tour at the start of November 1991. In 1991 the first single of 'Nevermind', 'Smells like teen spirit' went straight into the UK top 10 (number 9). They appeared on the TV show 'Top of the Pops' to perform their single, however they were asked to mime, and were only allowed live vocals. The band rebelled and during the performance Cobain sang slowly, messing around with the vocals and through the use of wide-shots and low angles, Krist Novoselic was captured exaggerating his movements when playing the guitar- this appeared comical and rebellious to the audience.
Nirvana also appeared on the Jonathan Ross show. They were supposed to perform their new single (Smells like teen spirit), however they didn't do as they were asked and performed another song from their album called 'Territorial Pissing'. Low key lighting and a tight-packed, confined playing area, emphasised Nirvana's rebellious representation. This appearance on the Jonathan Ross show was after their stunt on Top of the Pops.

Unlike artists today, the internet wasn't around for Nirvana to promote their album(s). During an interview with Swedish TV, Nirvana were captured using a wide shot, as they sat in a boat, smoking and wearing 'normal' clothes, through the dialogue and their body language they appeared quite nervous and awkward with the press. Without the use of the internet it was more difficult to promote their album, Nirvana relied on the TV performances, word of mouth, tours, reviews and music videos to promote their album and gain a wider audience.

Unlike Nirvana, Radiohead had access to the internet and used it to promote their album(s) and attract their fans. Free of major labels (EMI), they embraced digital technology and released their 6th album 'In Rainbows' (2007) via their website- download only. This allowed their audience/ fans to 'pay what they want' for the album. This experiment made more money than previous album releases, selling 300,000 to 400,000 copies.
Unlike Nirvana, Radiohead didn't have to release singles or tour around Europe to promote the album, as they were free of major label contracts. They did however release a music video for the song 'Lotus Flower' from 'King of Limbs' (2011), the production value was low budget, wide-shots, close-ups and high/ low angles were used to capture Thom Yorke dancing in an abandoned location. The low production value, appeals to a niche audience. Liam Gallagher commented on the 'King of Limbs' album, using bad language to describe why one of their songs from the album is "about a f**king tree". This interview with Gallagher, even though it was a negative comment on the album, gave Radiohead more press, promoting their album further. Radiohead are already an established band globally, the lack of promotion shows that they don't need to promote themselves to be successful.

For Lady Gaga's 2011 album 'Born this way', she released 5 singles accompanied with music videos to promote her album, as well as tours and promotion through social media. Gaga is an influencer offline and online, she embraces technology to form a relationship with fans. Her fans are called 'Little Monsters' and they call her 'Mother Monster'; her relationship with her fans is a 'parasocial interaction,' Gaga retweets her fans comments to her via twitter. Her parasocial interaction spans around millions of followers on her range of social media; 47 million Facebook followers, 18 million Twitter followers and 21,000 followers on Google+.
The internet boosts the sales, of the albums through the download format. In the US 'Born this way' sold 1.108 million copies in its first week, with an estimated 440,000 copies sold on Amazon in two days at the price of 99-cents (59p). The price of the album, may suggest that is the reason Gaga was so successful and sold so many copies. This is also the case for Radiohead's 2007, self-release album 'In Rainbows'. Offering the album as 'pay what you want' allowed them to earn more money than previous releases.
Gaga's album debuted at the top 5 spots of every major market, including the Billboard 200, after its release. This shows that the internet boosts global appeal, as Nirvana had to tour and rely on TV appearances as well interviews with magazines to gain global appeal. It took Nirvana 5 months to get to number one, whereas Gaga's album entered the top charts within its first week after release.

The global appeal for my three texts varies, as each artist works in a different genre, Nirvana 'grunge', Radiohead 'rock' and Lady Gaga 'synth-pop'. The internet plays a big part in the global appeal/ success of the artists, as it took Lady Gaga and Radiohead a week to debut on the top charts, whereas it took Nirvana 5 months to get to number one. Major labels also have an effect on the global appeal, due to the touring and interviews the artists have to do in order to promote their albums.

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